Flogging a dead horse
Early on in Dostoevsky’s great work Crime and Punishment,
Published in 1866 when Dostoevsky was 44 years old,
Raskolnikov, an ex-student in St Petersburg, sees himself as a young boy,
Walking through a provincial town with his father.
Outside a pub, a drunken rabble surround a weary old horse,
Hitched to a weighty cartload that it cannot possibly pull.
To the delight of the cheering mob, the horse is beaten, brutally,
Sometimes whipped across the eyes and muzzle.
Men climb into the cart to weigh it down further,
When someone speaks up against this cruelty,
The killer merely yells “My property, my property!”
On January 3, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche, then 44,
Left his lodgings in Turin. Excluded from all German universities,
No-platformed because of his radical, god-less opinions.
Nietzsche walked a short distance across a nearby square.
Seeing a horse being cruelly flogged by its owner,
The philosopher threw himself towards the animal
Breaking into tears, he slumped to the floor.
The remaining 11 years of his life were spent
In an asylum, under the spell of profound madness.
Theodor W. Adorno, a later German philosopher, said:
“Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks
At a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.”